Former state Rep. Alma Stallworth dies at 87

    Former Rep. Alma Stallworth | Ken Coleman photo

    Alma Stallworth, a longtime state House member and founder of the Black Caucus Foundation of Michigan, died Tuesday. She was 87.

    In 1970, she won a House seat in a Northwest Detroit community that was becoming racially integrated. Stallworth held the seat until 2004. In 2005, she was appointed to the Detroit Board of Education.

    Stallworth was born in Little Rock, Ark. in 1932. When she was 4, she and her mother moved to Des Moines, Iowa. She wrote about the transition in her autobiography, “Legacy of a lawmaker: Inspired by Faith & Family.”

    “It was so different for me, a little city girl who was used to the constant honking of horns in traffic and houses that sat adjacent to one another for block after block,” Stallworth recalled. “Nothing excited me more than spending time with my grandmother and marveling at her cows, chickens, and horses. I would watch in awe as she carefully milked the cows, then churned the milk into creamy butter.”

    State Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) was “deeply saddened” to learn of Stallworth’s death.

    “I know that she led a life well lived and ‘The Rep’ left an indelible mark on the heart and lives of so many across the state of Michigan,” she tweeted Wednesday.

    Thomas Stallworth III, a former state House member, posted on Facebook that the loss of his mother “leaves a hole in my heart the size of a crater!”

    “The out-pouring of support by the friends God has provided reminds me of how blessed I am and that I’m not alone in feeling this loss,” he wrote. “Mom has joined Dad, her partner of 65 years, in the arms of the Lord after living long full lives. We have truly been blessed to have them and I will rejoice in continuing to hear their voices in all that I do.”

    Keith Stallworth, another son who also served in the state House, posted on Facebook: “We know all is good … as you can now rest in the arms of your lifelong love and our Lord!”

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.